NEW YORK, June 17, 2011 ( – In a strongly worded address to the United Nations this week,  a representative of the Vatican emphasized and explained the official position of the Catholic Church in response to the adoption of the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS.

“The Holy See rejects references to terms such as ‘populations at risk’ and ‘populations at higher risk’ because they treat persons as objects and can give the false impression that certain types of irresponsible behavior are somehow morally acceptable,” Archbishop Frances Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, told the international body.

“The Holy See does not endorse the use of condoms/commodities as part of HIV and AIDS prevention programmes or classes/programmes of education in sex/sexuality,” he continued. “Prevention programmes or classes/programmes of education in human sexuality should focus not on trying to convince the world that risky and dangerous behaviour forms part of an acceptable lifestyle, but rather should focus on risk avoidance, which is ethically and empirically sound.”

Abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage, said the archbishop, is “the only safe and completely reliable method” of preventing HIV.  Abstinence and fidelity, then, must be the “foundation of any discussion of prevention and support.”

“The Holy See does not accept so-called ‘harm reduction’ efforts related to drug use,” Archbishop Chullikatt went on to tell the high-level plenary. Opposed to “the dignity of those suffering from drug addiction,” these efforts “do not treat or cure,” but instead contribute to a mentality that the victim cannot escape their addiction. 

Instead, the archbishop explained, “Such persons must be provided the necessary spiritual, psychological and familial support to break free from the addictive behavior in order to restore their dignity and encourage social inclusion.”

Speaking on prostitution, Archbishop Chullikatt emphasized that the Church’s rejects the term “sex workers” as a “characterization of persons who engage in prostitution.”  Such a definition, said Chullikatt, will give the “false impression that prostitution could somehow be a legitimate form of work.”

“Prostitution cannot be separated from the issue of the status and dignity of persons; governments and society must not accept such a dehumanization and objectification of persons.”

“What is needed,” concluded the archbishop, “is a value-based approach to counter the disease of HIV and AIDS, an approach which provides the necessary care and moral support for those infected and which promotes living in conformity with the norms of the natural moral order, an approach which respects fully the inherent dignity of the human person.”

View the complete address here.